Sep 30


Here’s the problem with quant-land.

I haven’t read the paper that Drum mentions and I probably won’t, but when you study something like this, you are bound by the quantifiable. At least in our modern conception, if it’s not measurable, it’s not real.

So you can do things like conclude that inequality only affects our economy by $200 billion a year.

That’s the $200 billion you can measure so to quants (which in reality is most everyone these days — it’s an ideology and a worldview, not just a practice) it’s all that matters. All that is. But of course it does not and will never account for these things: the art that does not and will never be created by the downtrodden and humiliated workers toiling at bullshit jobs; the resignation of a single mother realizing that she can be the most moral, the most kind person in the world and that only leads to more exploitation for her; the disabled person who is told in no uncertain terms that they are a waste of society’s time and money despite having much to contribute if they were only allowed to do so in slightly different terms; the cancer cure that will never be discovered because the researcher who will do so is told they are not quite good enough at some obscure area of calculus that they’ll never use anywhere.

I could go on. But do you see my point? The trouble with getting rid of the natural sciences and qualitative research and retreating to misnamed and inapplicable ideas like econophysics (which is neither economics or physics, but rather a joke) is that your range of possible knowledge shrinks to 1/1000 of what it could be otherwise sans the quant obsessions.

Most science these days is a sorting test to assay who has the highest IQ (though only in math areas) and can do well quickly in a very narrow and solvable range of math problems, rather than who has the best ideas, who is the most motivated, or who will actually not make the next nuclear weapon.

It’s one way to run a society, but is it a good one?

I have my doubts.

Sep 29


Is lunch getting too expensive?

Was wondering if I had been misperceiving this, or the price of lunch at restaurants really had been creeping up as compared to dinner.

When I was a young man, lunch was often half the price (and sometimes less) of comparable dinner fare.

Now it’s often the same price or only a little discounted.

This has personally made me more likely to bring food to work as why would I pay $12 for lunch and get half the food when I could get more for dinner at $14? Makes no sense economically.

There’s one good Mediterranean place I’ve found locally that charges by weight and since I eat very little compared to most Americans it’s cheap for me, often less than $7.

The other day when I walked out the woman ahead of me was buying lunch by weight as well. My total was $7.64. Her total was $14.61.

This explains very well why most Americans are the size of a house.

Sep 29


Morally, people seem most likely to vociferously denigrate those who undertake actions that they themselves have done, were tempted to do, or wish they could have done once.

Envy, in other words, seems to drive a lot of human behavior.

Sep 28

STEMming the tide

Women 1.5 Times More Likely to Leave STEM Pipeline after Calculus Compared to Men.

I read the paper, but as to my personal bias I’d like to believe that by the time women hit calculus being in general more practical by social indoctrination, they just realize how godawful boring it is and want to do something, anything else.

It’s no secret that I’m atrocious at math. But in addition to natural inability, I also find it just paralyzingly, insanely boring.

Surely I can’t be the only one who’s had the reaction of wanting to gouge his or her eyes out with dull sticks rather than do math?

Sep 28

Ain’t no bitches gonna hunt no ghosts

That’s a line that Kristen Wiig says in the new Ghostbusters film in an embedded (and funny) commentary on the online brouhaha instigated by man-children over the idea of an all-female remake of a beloved (and IMO overrated) film. She’s reading YouTube comments on a video the Ghostbusters themselves make in the film.holtz

I think what incensed these man-children more is that when the film came out it was actually really funny and damn charming. I don’t like most comedies but this one is pretty great. Yeah, it’s big and it’s loud and it’s kind of overindulgent but the characters have real chemistry and the film has just ridiculous energy and heart. Even better, they’re not all 22 years old and presented for their sexual attractiveness with all else secondary. They’re actual people and that makes all the difference.

Yes, they aren’t the women I’d prefer to have been in the movie but they all did a fine to amazing job. Kate MacKinnon is glorious in the film as Holtzmann. She is truly a weirdo and not the Natalie Portman Garden State style pseudo-weirdo who is just a cipher for male (and some female) fantasies, but rather someone that most people wouldn’t actually like much in real life.

There is so very rarely a female character like her in a film and it’s nice to see.

Is the film great? No. Is it better than the original? Yes, by a good amount.

It’s worth seeing just for Kate MacKinnon alone, though. Trust me on that. One of the top three comedy performances of all time in my book.

“It’s 2040. Our president is a plant.”

Sep 26

New Atlantis

The left pundits are correct that Trump will not save the Rust Belt or Appalachia.

Without a complete re-organization of society, nothing will.

What they don’t say, however, is that not only do they also have no plan to save these regions, they have no desire to do so. In fact, if these areas just disappeared and with them all the inconvenient “losers” of society, they’d be just fine with that.

This attitude explains why many of the inhabitants of those forsaken areas will be voting for Trump.

Sep 24

Not So Smart

The web has gotten so much worse since smart phones and the stampede of idiots that followed this.

Interfaces are now horrendous – strangely, even on a phone though they are supposedly designed for this format.

Social media I thought would swallow the riffraff up and keep them away, but instead they’ve like vermin invaded everywhere and also like vermin everywhere they invade follows a trail of coprolalia, copropraxia and coprographia – and trust me, that is a lot of metaphorical shit.

I wish the smartphone revolution had never happened and nothing like Facebook had ever been created, and that the web still existed as a refuge for relatively-intelligent people.

But that ain’t what happened.

Sep 24


Love these photos of stuntwoman Jessie Graff at the Emmy awards:


Hell of a dress that you can do that sort of thing in.

Sep 23

One Robot

Because I read I, Robot when I was 10 or 11, I forgot until something reminded me of it today that in the original book the protagonist was a woman, Dr. Susan Calvin.

Another film that did the kind of gender swap we could use a lot less of.

Hell, I’d be in favor of re-making every single decent movie with all-female casts. Let’s do it. (I originally wrote “all-female cats” accidentally. And that’d be ok too.)

Sep 20


Guy at work always ranting about the government being incompetent and unnecessary while his hand typically rests on a mouse which was first developed at a government-supported institution and all the while he’s using a computer with technologies largely developed by government research. As he’s whining, the company he works for is providing customers services on a globe-spanning network that we now know as the internet but was first called Arpanet because it was developed by — you guessed it — a government agency.

Cluelessness is a bottomless abyss apparently. Literally this person’s entire career, every economic good that has ever occurred in his life, has come about because of some government-sponsored invention.

I can’t explain any of this. No psychological theory is adequate to reduce this to something comprehensible. How have humans survived this long with brains that work so poorly?

Well, that won’t last. Surviving, that is.